ISSN 2330-717X

Florida CBS Affiliate Misleads Viewers – OpEd

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On January 3, the CBS affiliate in St. Petersburg, Florida, WTSP, posted on its website a news story that read, “Former Sarasota Bishop Charged with Sexually Battering Child.” It was about a former bishop at the Westcoast Center for Human Development in Sarasota; he was arrested and charged with battering a child.

We have no problem with that story. But we do have a problem with a similar story on this bishop that was posted the next day. It was titled, “‘It’s Disheartening’: Former Catholic Church Abuse Victim Says Local Bishop Could Have More Victims.”

In fact, there was no Catholic bishop charged with sexual abuse—it was the same Protestant bishop mentioned in the first story. The story began by stating that this bishop was “behind bars.” Then—out of nowhere—it says that sexual abuse is happening across the country, citing a man who says he was abused 50 years ago by a Catholic priest.

The headline was totally dishonest. Furthermore, mentioning that a Catholic priest victimized someone a half-century ago was as gratuitous as it was scurrilous.

Something broke down. How could this CBS affiliate get it right the first day and then take cheap shots at the Catholic Church the next day—in a story unrelated to the bishop?

It would be like doing a story on a current reporter from a Sarasota newspaper charged with sexual misconduct, and then adding a story about a former WTSP reporter who was accused of a sexual offense 50 years ago, mentioning WTSP in the headline!

This was not a mistake. It was deliberate. 

Contact Kelly Frank, Director of Content: [email protected]

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William Donohue

William Donohue is the current president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights in the United States, and has held that position since 1993.

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